Chimps can cook. According to a study from Harvard University, humans’ cognitive capacity for cooking is also shared by chimpanzees. This means that chimps and humans both prefer cooked food over raw food (who likes salad?), understand how cooking food works, and can cook for themselves.

In Harvard's study, chimps were given two slices of sweet potato: one raw and one cooked. The scientists put a raw slice into a magic bowl which appeared to cook the sweet potato (but was really a double bowl with cooked sweet potatoes hidden at the bottom), and the other sweet potato slice in a nonmagical bowl that left the sweet potation inside it raw.

During the experiment, most of the chimps picked the sweet potato in the cooking device, suggesting that the chimps understood the process and result of cooking the sweet potatoes—and also, that they desired the cooked vegetable over the raw alternative.

beer, water, coffee, tea
Photo courtesy of New York Times on YouTube 

In another experiment, the chimps were given a raw slice of sweet potato and the magic bowl. Half of the chimps used the bowl and cooked their sweet potato slices. 

tea, cake
Photo courtesy of New York Times on YouTube

Chimps also showed the ability to transport food to be cooked. In the experiment, many chimps walked to the other side of their case with their sweet potato slice to cook it; however, some chimps carried the food in their mouths and accidentally ate it (story of my life).

As for self control, the scientists basically gave the chimps a familar version of the marshmallow test—the scientists gave chimps sweet potatoes but appeared with the magic bowl after three minutes. Several chimps passed this test and waited for the magic bowl instead of immediately eating the slice they were given. Two even saved every last slice they were given to be cooked later. (You should Google search: do chimps have more self control than I do?)

vegetable, pasture, potato, tuber, carbohydrate
Jeanne Penn

Scientists currently believe that cooking played a large role in human evolution, and that ancestors of humans began to cook with fire around two million years ago. But this study has changed the way many scientists have previously seen human evolution, because chimpanzees were previously thought unable to cook.

If you can’t cook, you better start now (maybe with microwave mug recipes). Otherwise the chimps will beat you to it.